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When Fitness Trends Turn Fraud

by Meaghan posted April 2, 2012

As much as I love the fitness industry, it’s known for trends and gimmicky claims that just aren’t true…like the notion that barefoot running reduces injury risk.

In actuality, while there’s some evidence that suggests a reduction in impact forces when using a forefoot vs. a heel strike, we don’t have any long-term research on barefoot running – so all the claims at this point are simply speculation. Problem is, the ignorant consumer doesn’t realize this, nor does he/she allow ample time to adjust a gait pattern used to a lifetime of running in conventional shoes. End result? Injury and class action lawsuit against Vibram FiveFingers!

I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar claims come against¬†hot classes, another fitness industry trend that hopefully won’t last much longer. Seems every exercise class is now offered in extreme heat to “detox” the body through excessive sweating. People seem to like the scorching environment because they think they’re working harder… But while the heat makes the intensity¬†feel higher, that probably means you’re actually working less intensely than you would under cooler conditions.

According to that article, people also seem to think a hot environment negates the need for an adequate warm-up, and this simply isn’t true. What’s really disturbing is that the closest thing to a factual statement comes from Tracy Anderson… Warm-ups are meant to do more than raise body temperature; they serve to prepare both the muscular and nervous systems for the movements and ranges of motion involved in the workout – neither of which are accomplished with heat. Hot classes can also cause dehydration, which always negatively impacts exercise performance and isn’t safe or healthy.

By far my least favorite fitness trend is weight loss. In fact, it’s so heavily psychologically based that I typically tell people to set some type of health or performance goal and let weight loss be the side effect. Regardless, the “a calorie is a calorie” argument just won’t seem to die. But it’s just another trend. No, wait; I take that back. It’s a lie. And people are actually fatter for it!

There’s no question that calorie reduction plays a role weight loss. But while calories enter the body as units of energy, the way that energy is used by the body is a different story. Energy intake might be calorie-based, but the hormonal and metabolic contributions to the resulting energy expenditure are far more complicated than calories. Period.

So when you read something that claims the secret to weight loss lies is mummy poo… you may want to take it with a grain of salt.

Same goes for other fitness trends that aren’t scientifically backed. Otherwise, you could wind up injured, dehydrated and fat – not exactly a model for fitness.

Filed under: fitness commentary

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